Betting has been a popular pastime with many Hamiltonian’s and before the days of bookmakers shops, the ‘Pitch ‘n’ Toss was carried out behind shops, parks & disused land. However, in 1954 the men started to move away from gambling in the open air and the illegal bookmakers were cashing in on a lucrative business which had now become a more organised trade!

On the 3rd of 1954, three men were at court after being caught operating one of Hamilton’s most popular betting premises. John Nallen from Eddlewood was the proprietor of the shop at 5 Cadzow Lane which he had been using as a betting house.

His two accomplices were called John McMenemy of Low Waters Road & Thomas McGilvray of Tuphall Road, both admitted giving assistance in the conduct of betting arrangements on the premises.

This betting establishment was so popular amongst the local men that not only did the three bookies get caught, there was an astonishing 42 other people caught in the shop, all eagerly trying get a win from the popular race which was taking place that day. The police seized more than £16 and a number of betting slips.

The fiscal explained that the police had suspected for some time that the premises were being used for a betting house and when they raided it they found the 45 people inside. The police seized a total of £16 14s & 9d as well as the quantity of betting material.

The provost Mrs. Mary s. Ewart imposed a fine of £10, or 60 day’s imprisonment on John Nallen, which at the time was quite substantial while John McMenemy & Thomas McGilvray were each fined £5 or 30 days in jail.

Thirteen of the punters, who had admitted previous convictions for gambling were each fined £1, while the remaining 29 were each fined 10s. The rest of the money found on the premises was fortified.

It seemed that the judge wanted to make an example of the tree men in 1954 and by then the illegal gambling shops were not uncommon anywhere in Scotland let a lone Hamilton and every town had them. In fact it was so popular amongst people that gambling was made legal in the UK in 1960.

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